The Biden administration is expected to announce a temporary suspension of new oil and gas leasing on U.S. federal lands and waters on Jan. 27, and to order that nearly a third of federally run acreage is conserved over the next decade, three sources familiar with the matter said on Jan. 26.
President Joe Biden will make the announcement as part of a second batch of executive orders aimed at combating climate change, a key policy effort of the newly sworn-in president that marks an about-face from his predecessor Donald Trump who sought to maximize the country’s oil, gas and coal output.
Biden had vowed to ban new federal oil and gas permitting during his campaign for the White House, and his Interior Department last week issued a 60-day suspension of routine drilling approvals pending a review of the program in what was widely viewed as a precursor to a more permanent ban.
The orders will impact large swathes of acreage onshore in mostly Western states, as well as offshore drilling acreage located mainly in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.
Tribal lands, which host significant reserves of oil and gas, were not included in the Interior Department order, and will not be included in Biden’s executive order either, according to the sources.
A White House spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Biden’s other climate-related executive orders on Jan. 27 will also include beefing up the use of climate science in policy decisions and setting up an international summit on climate change for April, according to a memo seen by Reuters last week.
The push to end new federal drilling marks an easy target for the new administration: roughly a quarter of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions can be linked back to fossil fuels produced in federal lands and waters.
But it will also cause financial and economic strain in states that rely heavily on revenues from the federal minerals leasing program, including Democrat-run New Mexico which receives more than $1 billion a year from drilling levies.
Oil-dependent states and oil industry representatives have expressed concerns about the potential drilling ban.
The orders would follow a raft of climate-related executive actions that Biden signed shortly after his inauguration on Jan. 20, including rejoining the Paris climate agreement, canceling the presidential permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada, and halting oil leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.
Some 71% of senior oil and gas professionals and executives surveyed by DNV GL expect to increase or maintain investment in renewable energy, decarbonizing oil and gas production and new low-carbon technologies.
Renewable energy growth is estimated at an annual average rate of 11% between 2015 and 2035, with growth in wind and solar capacity up nine-fold from seven percent of total power supply today to nearly 40% by 2040, energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie estimates.
The total capital investment of the Project is over $150 million, and there will be up to 250 people employed at the site during the height of construction activity.